The much talked about meeting of parties opposed to the BJP to strategise against the saffron party in the next Lok Sabha elections has been postponed and may now be held after the current Assembly elections and before the start of the winter session of Parliament, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee said after a meeting between them in Kolkata.
Claiming that democracy in the country was in danger, Naidu, who is also the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief, said on Monday that there is a "democratic compulsion" for the senior opposition leaders to join hands to protect the nation.
Echoing his views, Banerjee said the meeting of anti-BJP parties would be held after campaigning in the Assembly elections and before the start of the winter session of Parliament.
"The meeting to be held on November 22 has been postponed due to the ongoing election campaign. We want to meet before the next parliamentary session. We are in discussions about it. The date of the meeting will be announced soon," Naidu told reporters following the meeting at the state secretariat Nabanna.
"Democracy in the country is in danger. So there is a democratic compulsion for us to join together. It is the responsibility of us, the senior leaders to protect the nation. Those who are opposing BJP will join together, discuss everything and chalk out a programme to go forward," he said.
Naidu, whose TDP was earlier an ally of the BJP, has met a spectrum of leaders including Congress president Rahul Gandhi, NCP's Sharad Pawar, DMK's M.K. Stalin, National Conference' Farooq Abdullah, former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda and BSP chief Mayawati to forge a front against the ruling party and had proposed a meeting of opposition parties to be held in New Delhi on November 22.
Terming the meeting with Banerjee as successful, Naidu said fighting together has become necessary as all major institutions in the country including the CBI, the Income Tax Department, the RBI are under threat while the nation's economy is at a standstill.
"We have to protect the institutions... you name any institution, they are under severe pressure and threat. Be it the CBI, Income Tax, RBI every institution is under threat. Even the petrol and diesel prices are increasing, there is inflation, the whole nation's economy is at a standstill," he said.
When asked whether the Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati, who has refused to be a part of the "mahagatbandhan" if the Congress is included, will be considered as an ally, Naidu said, "All these things, we are going to discuss. We are in touch with Mayawati ji along with everybody else."
Banerjee, the Trinamool Congress supremo, said she has invited Naidu for her proposed opposition party meeting here in January next year, which was confirmed by the TDP chief.
"We are grateful that he has come here. I invited him also for the January 19 meeting. We are discussing the matters for the country's interest and earlier, we also discussed so many things. Today, we discussed in detail about the next future plans. When the meeting will be decided, we will discuss the plan of action. We are working and speaking together," Banerjee said.
Responding to a question regarding who would be the face of the proposed grand alliance of opposition parties, Banerjee said, "Everybody will be the face of this Mahagatbandhan (grand alliance)."
Naidu interjected to say that "all of us are senior to Modi".
The West Bengal BJP leadership, however, refused to give any importance to the meeting stating that both Banerjee and Naidu are regional leaders and neither have any vote bank in the other's state.
"Does Naidu have any supporter in Bengal? Or does Banerjee have any vote bank in Andhra Pradesh? Then what is the point of this meeting?" BJP National Secretary Rahul Sinha questioned.
Terming the proposed alliance between opposition leaders like Banerjee and Naidu as an "alliance of thieves", Sinha said common people know that some corrupt leaders are getting united to save themselves from getting arrested by the CBI.